Warren County’s property tax rate remains unchanged for 2020-21 and departmental budgets are set for the fiscal year.
The Warren County Commission met Monday to consider a recommendation out of committee to leave the property tax rate unchanged at $1.96 (an adjusted rate from last year’s $2.24 due to property reappraisal) and a consolidated budget for fiscal year 2020-21. Both were unanimously approved.
Before approval, one change was proposed to the Warren County Jail budget. Sheriff Tommy Myers requested $65,000 for a counselor, an increase from $50,000 given the previous year. Carl D. Bouldin recommended the county remove $15,000.
“Our county executive sent us a lengthy email this afternoon telling us how exceptional the times were,” said Bouldin. “I don’t think this is the time for us to increase the maintenance of effort anywhere. That $15,000 could easily be pulled from the jail’s food supplies and not increase the budget. If it’s appropriate, I’d like to make a motion to remove that $15,000 and it be reduced back to what it was last year at $50,000.”
Myers defended the request.
Said Sheriff Myers, “The reason we asked for that increase was to hire a mental health professional with the qualifications that we need moving forward,” Myers said. “To hire the personnel that I do need for that position, salary and benefits, it will take $60,000 to $65,000 to get a qualified person. I’d like to do it right when we do it. I don’t want to hire someone who’s not as qualified and then need someone with the qualifications in the near future.”
Bouldin said the jail has had approximately $100,000 remaining in its food budget at the end of each fiscal year and a new catering service is projected to save another $100,000.
“The money is there,” said Bouldin. “I’m not saying you don’t need an additional $15,000 for a counselor. I’m just saying pull it from somewhere else rather than raising maintenance of effort. We can take $15,000 and he can move money later on when he sees that he needs it.”
Myers voiced hesitancy.
“The money has been there in food, but we cannot predict the future,” he said. “Our jail numbers will go up. Food costs with this new outsource company that we are going to, on paper at least, we are going to be able to save even more money. I’m hoping that money will be there. Obviously, if it’s not, we’ll have to find money to replace that.”
Brown suggested the $15,000 reduction be come from the jail’s food budget now to prevent a budget transfer later, to which Bouldin agreed and changed his motion to remove $15,000 from the jail’s food budget and allow the jail counselor line item to remain $65,000.
The change was approved 22-1. Steven Helton offered the only dissenting vote to remove the $15,000.
The tax rate passed unanimously. Voting in favor of the $1.96 tax rate were Michael Bell, Carl D. Bouldin, Carl E. Bouldin, Carlene Brown, David Dunlap, Randy England, Deborah Evans, Steve Glenn, Steven Helton, Robert Hennessee, Lori Judkins, Ron Lee, Gary Martin, Daniel Owens, Gary Prater, Christy Ross, Scott Rubley, Tommy Savage, Tyrone Sparkman, Joseph Stotts, Phillip Stout, Cole Taylor and Blaine Wilcher.